What Is the Message?

Today’s scripture: Gal 2:1-10 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Linda Bernabie):

When I first read Galatians 2:1-10, I immediately recalled the many opinions and sermons I have heard which attempted to define “The Message.” Each person put his or her own spin on it. Definitions ranged from the basics, such as “the original sin” in Genesis, to the need to prepare for “the end of days” as described in Revelations. Needless to say, this vagueness regarding “The Message” sent me on a mission to find my own truth (finding my own truth is a habit with me).

As I began to read and study the works of “religious experts,” the more ambiguity I encountered. Eventually, I fell into my OCD over-analyzing trap. When the frustration got the best of me, I decided to go to the Apostle Paul to help me out.

What is Paul’s definition of “The Message”? It is really quite simple: God gave us Grace. No credit card is required, because it is free! All you have to do is accept this gift.

God’s gift of Grace is unearned forgiveness, a favor, a pardon. God pardons us (no ankle bracelet required) even when we are guilty. We don’t earn a pardon because it is already paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ.

In today’s passage, Paul wants both Jews and Gentiles to know the truth of “The Message” — that God wants them to live forever and be happy. All they have to do is accept God’s Grace. By doing so, they will live forever in the Kingdom of heaven. “Awesome gift, huh?”

“The Message” has never changed, and it is not up for debate. It is the same now as it was when Paul uttered the words the first time. It is the same in all versions of the bible. It is the same for whoever you are, what color you are, what burdens you hold, or wrongs you have committed. God’s Grace is there for the taking.

Awesome quotations for the day:

Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable. The cliché definition of grace is “unconditional love.” It is a true cliché, for it is a good description of the thing. …

Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold. …

Grace is one-way love. — Paul Zaul

Grace doesn’t make demands. It just gives. And, from our vantage point, it always gives to the wrong person. We see this over and over again in the Gospels: Jesus is always giving to the wrong people — prostitutes, tax collectors, half-breeds. The most extravagant sinners of Jesus’s day receive His most compassionate welcome. Grace is a divine vulgarity that stands caution on its head. — Tullian Tchividjian

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.